Monday, March 21, 2011

Author Karen Brennan reads from her work March 25 at WWCC in Rock Springs

Karen Brennan, author of five books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, will read from her work on Friday, March 25. The event will take place at Western Wyoming Community College in Room 1302 at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Brennan’s books include The Garden in Which I Walk, a collection of stories published by University of Alabama Press in 2004; The Real Enough World, a collection of poetry from Wesleyan University Press in 2006, and the memoir Being With Rachel: A Story of Memory and Survival, published by WW Norton in 2002 and nominated by the publisher for a Pulitzer Prize. Her fiction, poetry and nonfiction have also appeared in numerous anthologies and journals.

Of the stories in The Garden in Which I Walk, writer Kevin McElvoy says, “They are ten triumphs in a single volume. Karen Brennan's jazz-infused fiction demoniacally crashes us into our delusions, our states of despairing satiation and of happy hungering.”  A reviewer for The Compulsive Reader adds, “Her constant question is ‘where do men and women go when they have reached the end?’ The answer may be bleak but there is no doubt about the seriousness of the quest or the authority with which the writer describes it.”

Brennan’s memoir, Being with Rachel, recounts her daughter’s efforts, with her own devoted help, to recover from a brain injury suffered in a motorcycle accident. According to writer Antonya Nelson, the book “advocates illustrates and demonstrates the superhuman power of family, its ability to triumph in the face of worst-case scenarios, institutional aloofness, bad luck, and the evil influence of conventional wisdom.” Charles Baxter praises it as a book that explores “the mystery of an unbreakable love between a mother and her daughter.”

In a review of The Real Enough World, Brennan’s most recent book of poetry, Sue Butler of Poetry Salzburg Review writes, “This is a compelling book that mines the hurt of human life to great effect. It contains tragedy and irony, splashes of humor, failure, love, insight and song…but mostly it contains bravery.”

Brennan comments on the diverse nature of her work thusly: “I am a believer in hybrid forms, fictions that shade into nonfiction, poetry that becomes story or essay. What's exciting to me is working in-between genres, not being ‘trapped’ in one genre with all its conventional expectations. I like to think that my teaching liberates my students to try new things, to find their own paths to their very distinctive and idiosyncratic materials.”

Karen Brennan holds a PhD from University of Arizona and an MFA from Goddard. She is a Professor of English at the University of Utah where she teaches in the graduate creative writing program, and has served as faculty at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers since 1992.  Among her awards are a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship and an Associated Writing Program award. 

In addition to her public reading, Brennan will give a three-hour writing workshop on Friday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m., as part of a one-credit Visiting Writers course.

The event is sponsored by the Arlene and Louise Wesswick Foundation and by the WWCC English Department. It is the last of four readings in the Spring 2011 Visiting Writers series, which also included journalist and historian Tom Rea, Wyoming Poet Laureate David Romtvedt, and Colorado poet and editor Maria Melendez. 

For more information, contact Rick Kempa at

Photo – Karen Brennan, author of five books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, will read from her work at Western Wyoming Community College on March 25 at 7:30 p.m. Brennan’s visit is part of the annual Visiting Writers Series sponsored by the Arlene and Louise Wesswick Foundation and the WWCC English Department.

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