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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Good Thunder 2015-16 Schedule

Good Thunder 2015-16 Schedule


The Good Thunder Reading Series is pleased to announce its 2015-16 program.

Fiction and creative nonfiction writer Roxane Gay

Fiction writer, memoirist, cartoonist, and playwright Lynda Barry
Poet, fiction writer and creative nonfiction writer Michael Torres

Poet Jenny Yang Cropp
Fiction writer Luke Rolfes

Poetry, essayist, literary critic Stephen Burt

Poet and creative nonfiction writer Jonathan Johnson

Fiction and nonfiction writer Susan Power
Poet Taylor Tolchin  


In 2014, Roxane Gay published both Bad Feminist and An Untamed State to universal praise. Bad Feminist, her collection of essays, continues to garner international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism.  In their review of her work TIME magazine proclaimed, “let this be the year of Roxane Gay!” In her essays, she navigates her sharp wit through entertainment and culture, particularly the consumption of television, news, movies, sports, literature and comedy. Her powerful debut novel, An Untamed State, is a thought-provoking examination of privilege, social class, entitlement and corruption. It was longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and Library Journal named it one of the ten best books of the year. Gay is the co-editor of PANK and was the non-fiction editor at The Rumpus. She is at the helm of The Butter, a website dedicated to cultural criticism and personal essays by people of color and queer writers. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, and many others. She is also the author of Ayiti. She is currently working on her new novel, Hunger. Gay dominates Scrabble tournaments frequently and hopes to be Ina Garten when she grows up.  She resides in Indiana where she is an Associate professor of English at Purdue University.

Lynda Barry is a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator and teacher.  She is the author of the books One Hundred DemonsThe Greatest of Marlys, Cruddy: An Illustrated Novel, Naked Ladies Naked Ladies Naked Ladies, and The Good Times are Killing Me which was adapted as an off-Broadway play and won the Washington State Governor's Award.  Her comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek was syndicated across North America in alternative weeklies for two decades. Her bestselling and acclaimed creative writing-how-to-graphic novel, What It Is, won the Eisner Award for Best Reality Based Graphic Novel. Barry’s follow up and creative drawing companion to What It Is, is entitled Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book.  Her most recent book, Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor, further details Barry's inspiring writing method which focuses on the relationship between the hand, the brain, and spontaneous images, both written and visual.  Barry is currently Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Born and raised in Pomona, California, Michael Torres spent his childhood summers reading and writing book reports for his sister, and his adolescence as a graffiti artist. His first chapbook, The Beautiful Distraction, was published by Finishing Line Press. His work has appeared in Okey-Panky, Solo Press, Miramar, and other journals. He earned his BA in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. Currently, he is an MFA candidate at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he teaches writing and serves as poetry editor of Blue Earth Review.

Jenny Yang Cropp is the author of one poetry collection, String Theory (Mongrel Empire Press, 2015), and one chapbook, Hanging the Moon (RockSaw Press, 2010). Her work was recently anthologized in Nodin Press’s Anthology of Poetry, and her poems have appeared in various journals including Ecotone, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Boxcar Poetry Review. She teaches English at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and is completing a Ph.D. in English at the University of South Dakota.

Luke Rolfes grew up outside of Des Moines, Iowa and currently teaches writing and literature at Northwest Missouri State University. His book Flyover Country won the Georgetown Review Press Short Story Collection Contest, and his stories and essays have appeared in numerous journals including North American Review, Bat City Review, Connecticut Review, Baltimore Review, and others. His fiction was featured on Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, won the Iron Horse Discovered Voices Contest, and was shortlisted by the Iowa Short Fiction Award, Spokane Prize, and Flannery O’Connor Award. He was chosen as a mentor in the AWP Spring 2015 “Writer to Writer” program, and he is as an editor for the Missouri-based magazine The Laurel Review.

Stephen Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor with eight published books, including two critical books on poetry and three poetry collections. His essay collection Close Calls with Nonsense (Graywolf Press, 2009) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other works include Belmont (2013); The Art of the Sonnet (Harvard University Press, 2010); Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler (University of Virginia Press, 2009); The Forms of Youth: Adolescence and 20th Century Poetry (Columbia University Press, 2007); Parallel Play: Poems (Graywolf, 2006); Randall Jarrell on W. H. Auden (University Press, 2005); Randall Jarrell and His Age (Columbia University Press, 2002); and Popular Music (Center for Literary Publishing, 1999). The New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of his generation.” His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Believer, and the Boston Review.  Burt taught at Macalester College for several years before becoming a professor of English at Harvard University.

Jonathan Johnson’s second collection of poems, In the Land We Imagined Ourselves, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2010. His first collection, Mastodon, 80% Complete, was published in 2001 by Carnegie Mellon. His poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry and numerous other anthologies, as well as recent issues of Southern Review, Ploughshares, North American Review, and The Prairie Schooner. Johnson is also the author of a memoir, Hannah and the Mountain: Notes Toward a Wilderness Fatherhood, which was published in 2005 by the University of Nebraska Press in their American Lives Series. He is a professor at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers, the MFA program at Eastern Washington University. Johnson spends as much time as he can in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and at the secluded, log cabin he and his wife built on the Johnson Family Farm in northern Idaho.

Susan Power is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and a native Chicagoan. She is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the author of three books, The Grass Dancer (a novel), Roofwalker (a story collection), and the new novel, Sacred Wilderness. The Grass Dancer was awarded a PEN/Hemingway prize in 1995 and Roofwalker, a Milkweed National Fiction Prize in 2002. Her short stories and essays have been widely published in journals, magazines and anthologies including: The Best American Short Stories of 1993, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The Southern Review and Granta. Her fellowships include an Iowa Arts Fellowship, James Michener Fellowship, Radcliffe Bunting Institute Fellowship, Princeton Hodder Fellowship, USA Artists Fellowship, and Loft McKnight Fellowship for 2015-16. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Taylor Tolchin was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and received her BA in creative writing from DePaul University. Her poetry is largely shaped by her experiences learning and speaking American Sign Language with her late grandfather. She is currently a second year creative writing MFA candidate at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she is a poetry editor of the Blue Earth Review. She lives with her dog, Huck, with whom she loves to adventure.

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