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April 10: Good Thunder Reading Series

Fiction writer Jesmyn Ward and poet Nikky Finney to give talks, readings.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of English News Release, 4-2-2014

Mankato, Minn. -- Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Good Thunder Reading Series continues its spring programming when National Book Award winners Jesmyn Ward and Nikky Finney visit campus on Thursday, April 10.

The two will meet with community writers at 10 a.m. in Centennial Student Union Room 238 and be interviewed on KMSU 89.7 FM. At 3 p.m. in CSU Ostrander Auditorium, they will lead a discussion on the craft of writing. At 7:30 p.m. in CSU Room 253, they will read from their published works. All events are free and open to the public.

Jesmyn Ward's novel "Salvage the Bones," which won the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction, was called “fearless and toughly lyrical” (The Library Journal). Her unflinching portrayals of young black men and women struggling to thrive in a South ravaged by poverty and natural disaster have been praised for their “graphic clarity” (The Boston Globe) and “hugeness of heart” (O: The Oprah Magazine). Ward's precise and graceful narratives make her a fitting heir to the rich literary tradition of the American South. Her memoir, "Men We Reaped," was recently published, and she is at work on a new novel.

Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the civil rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff’s Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history. Finney has authored four books of poetry: "Head Off & Split" (2011); "The World Is Round" (2003); "Rice" (1995); and "On Wings Made of Gauze" (1985). Professor of English and creative writing at the University of South Carolina, Finney also authored "Heartwood" (1997), edited "The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South" (2007), and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, "Head Off & Split," was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.

This year’s Good Thunder Reading Series is funded by the Minnesota State Mankato Department of English, the College of Arts and Humanities, the Office of Institutional Diversity, the Nadine B. Andreas Endowment, the Eddice B. Barber Visiting Writer Endowment, the Robert C. Wright Endowment, and individual donors. This activity 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. Minnesota State Mankato Library Services and the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Minnesota State Mankato offer additional assistance.

For more information about the series, contact Richard Robbins at the Minnesota State Mankato Department of English, 507-389-1354, or see the web site at

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