The Good Thunder Reading Series
began as MSU Mankato's contribution to a set of informal
exchanges between faculty writers at several state universities in Minnesota.
Since 1983, the series has committed itself to programs that
balance emerging and established talent drawn from Minnesota, the Upper
Midwest, and the rest of the nation. A standard schedule involves seven
one-day residencies spread out over the academic year. One writer will
be featured during the Robert C. Wright Minnesota Writers Residency in
fall. Another writer will come for an expanded four-day schedule that
includes the customary conferences with area writers, public-radio interview,
craft talk, and reading—as well as a four-day writing workshop.
Minnesota writers who have come in past years include Tim O’Brien,
Judith Guest, Kate Green, Bill Holm, Jonis Agee, Will Weaver, Gary Paulsen,
and Jon Hassler. Visitors from elsewhere include Philip Levine, Donald Hall, Joy Williams,
Louise Erdrich, James Welch, Roberta Hill Whiteman, William Kittredge,
William Stafford, Carolyn Forché, Richard Ford, Sharon Olds, and Rick DeMarinis. See the complete list here.
With all events open to the
public, the audience for the series includes a sizable student/faculty
group and a like-sized group of at-large community members from Mankato
and outlying rural areas in southcentral Minnesota. Given MSU’s
distance from the Twin Cities metropolitan area, the Good Thunder Reading
Series serves the important function of bringing vital and exciting voices
to a region that otherwise has difficult access to the arts. In recent
years, live-audience totals have approached 2000 per year, along with an estimated 80,000 radio listeners for broadcast interviews.
While these activities operate on a continuing budget from Minnesota State University’s College of Arts and Humanities, and often with additional support from other MSU sources, the program has received further help in the past from the Minnesota Humanities Commission, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writers, Inc., and Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council.
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 in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State's arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. Additionally, this activity is made possible by a grant provided by the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. MSU Library Services and the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Minnesota State offer additional assistance.
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