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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Nov. 10-11: Good Thunder Reading Series to Feature Poets, Nonfiction Writers

Brian Turner and Dunya Mikhail are visiting writers.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Good Thunder Reading Series News Release, 10-29-2016

Mankato, Minn. - Minnesota State University, Mankato will host Brian Turner and Dunya Mikhail, both poets and nonfiction writers, Thursday and Friday, Nov. 10-11 as its next featured writers in the Good Thunder Reading Series.

On Nov. 10, there will be 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 Turner and Mikhail will read from their work from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Centennial Student Union, Room 245.

On Nov. 11, in partnership with Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27, and St. John’s Episcopal Church, Turner, Mikhail and Minnesota State Mankato faculty member Gwen Westerman will give a talk on “Making Meaning out of War” from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church (302 Warren Street, Mankato).

All Good Thunder Reading Series events are free and open to the public.

Turner, who served seven years in the U.S. Army, is a poet and a memoirist that wrote two poetry collections “Phantom Noise” and “Here, Bullet,” which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, the 2006 PEN Center USA “Best in the West” award, and the 2007 Poets Prize.

Turner’s work has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, Poetry Daily, and Harper’s Magazine. He was awarded a United States Artists Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship and a Lannan Foundation Fellowship. His most recent memoir, “My Life as a Foreign Country,” has been called, “achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful.”

Mikhail was born in Iraq in 1965 and came to the United States in 1996 after her poetry landed on Saddam Hussein’s enemies list. She currently works as an Arabic special lecturer at Oakland University in Michigan. In 2001, she was awarded the Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing from the United Nations.

One of her first works, “The War Works Hard,” was translated into English by Elizabeth Winslow and established her as the first female Iraqi poet with a book published in the United States. Winslow also converted Mikhail’s “Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea,” which won the 2010 Arab American Book Award. Mikhail’s latest collection, “The Iraqi Nights,” was translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid.

Mikhail was shortlisted for the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize, and named one of “Twenty-Five Books to Remember from 2005,” by the New York Public Library. Mikhail is the recipient of the Kresge Fellowship and the Arab American Book Award, and she is the co-founder of Mesopotamian Forum Art and Culture in Michigan.

Westerman, a professor of English, is a poet and nonfiction writer. Her work has appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, Water-Stone Review, A View from The Loft, Western American Literature, and Natural Bridge. She has a collection of poetry, “Follow the Blackbirds” (Michigan State University Press, 2013), and she co-authored an award-winning historical volume, “Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota” (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012). Her in-progress poetry collection focuses on the experiences of mothers of combat veterans of war.

The Good Thunder Reading Series is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

The 2016-17 Good Thunder Reading Series also receives support from Minnesota State Mankato’s Department of English, College of Arts and Humanities, Office of Institutional Diversity, the Nadine B. Andreas Endowment, the Eddice B. Barber Visiting Writer Endowment, the Robert C. Wright Endowment and individual donors. The Arts Center of St.Peter, the Twin Rivers Council of the Arts and Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Minnesota State Mankato offer additional assistance.

For photos or more information, contact Diana Joseph at or 507-389-5144.


Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,110 students, is part of the Minnesota State system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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