Writers Series hosts poet, nonfiction writer Joe Wilkins

GVL / Courtesy Photo
Joe Wilkins

Courtesy photo

GVL / Courtesy Photo Joe Wilkins

Cory Finkbeiner

Poet and nonfiction writer Joe Wilkins will visit Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus on March 13 to share his work with students and take questions from the audience in a craft talk.

The two-part event is a GVSU Writers Series reading, and will take place in Room 2215 of the Kirkhof Center at 4 and 7:30 p.m.

The multi-talented writer almost graduated with an engineering degree, but said he was “ruined” by taking a couple of English courses his senior year. His decision to become a poet is now rewarded with awards and appearances in Michigan Quarterly and Best American Magazine Writing, among many others. Wilkins is a Montana native who writes about the world he grew up in.

GVSU Writers Series event coordinator Caitlin Horrocks said Wilkins’ work describes less-than-ideal conditions with attractive writing, making for a reading experience that feels raw and honest.

“His nonfiction blends research with beautiful language,” Horrocks said. “He can tell a really strong story, but the sentences themselves are very interesting.”

Wilkins’ poetry background gives his prose the advantage of fluid thought, and gives his reader, or listener if one is attending the event, the advantage of vivid imagery. He finds a way to describe barren landscapes in a good way, said Horrocks.

“I’m really interested to hear his work aloud,” she said. “I think he writes about a lot of interesting subjects, and I think he does it in a really compelling way.”

One of the pieces Wilkins will share excerpts from is “The Mountain and the Fathers”, in which he writes about growing up in the “Big Dry.” The work is a clear and straightforward look at a drought-afflicted area in Montana.

“It’s about the truth behind the wild West,” Horrocks said. “It’s a lot of people trying to survive in harsh conditions.”

Wilkins will perform a reading at 7:30 p.m., and if students wish to ask Wilkins a question the craft talk is at 4 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

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