MSU Residential College of Arts and Humanities Center for Poetry will host a husband-and-wife team of authors, poet Rick Mulkey and novelist Susan Tekulve, this week, from November 4 to 6. Events featuring the two will be free of charge and open to the community, and the schedule is set as follows:
Tuesday, November 4: Join Tekulve at 3 pm for a writing workshop, "Moments of Being and Non-Being: Finding Extraordinary Stories in Every Day Objects and First Homes,” at C210 conference room of MSU’s Snyder-Phillips Hall.
Wednesday, November 5: Join Tekulve and Mulkey at 3 pm for "The Muse Upon Their Shoulders: The Lives of Modern Writing Couples” at C210 conference room of MSU’s Snyder-Phillips Hall.
Wednesday, November 5: Enjoy a joint reading from the couple at 7 pm in the RCAH Theater, located in the basement of MSU’s Snyder-Phillips Hall. (Parking on campus is free after 6 pm.)
Thursday, November 6: Join Mulkey at 3 pm for the poetry workshop “Principles of Pattern: Inspiration through Emulation,” at C210 conference room of MSU’s Snyder-Phillips Hall.
Synder-Phillips Hall is located at 326 Bogue Street.
At the Wednesday evening reading, Tekulve will be reading from her recent novel, In the Garden of Stone, winner of the 2012 South Carolina First Novel Award and a 2014 Gold IPPY Award as the best novel published in the South by an independent press. The book’s jacket text reads, “In the Garden of Stone is a multi-generational tale about the nature of power and pride, love and loss, and how one family endures estrangement from their land and each other in order to unearth the rich seams of forgiveness. Bleak, harrowing, and beautifully told, In the Garden of Stone is a haunting saga of endurance and redemption.”
Tekulve, who has previously published two collections of short stories and teaches creative writing at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, told me in an interview for ELi that it took her about eight years to complete the novel.
“The idea for the novel began with stories on tape cassettes my great-aunt sent me about my maternal grandmother’s early life,” Tekulve said. Tekulve originally imagined her novel taking place in Italy (her family is Sicilian), but in her first drafts she could tell that setting wasn’t working.
While writing her novel, the couple and their son Hunter went to visit Mulkey’s family in Bluefield, Virginia. “As Rick’s dad showed me and my son around, the setting just clicked—the mountains, the coal mines.” From there, Tekulve said, it was a very organic process. “That sense of place really unified the novel. One day I realized I had 360 pages and it was very close to being done.”
Tekulve said she had an amazing experience working with Hub City Press (the novel’s publisher). “I really felt like they considered it their book as well as mine. I always knew it was in good hands. From start to finish.”
On Wednesday evening, Mulkey will be reading from his fifth collection of poetry Ravenous: New and Selected Poems.
“Poetry has a different readership,” Mulkey observed to me in our interview for ELi. Mulkey directs the low-residency Masters of Fine Arts (in creative writing) program at Converse College. “For next residency, I’m thinking about doing a class entitled, ‘Who’s Listening?’ about writing in a genre with a small readership.”
Mulkey said that to write and arrange Ravenous, he had to go back through most of the poetry he had written in his adult life. “The new collection is about half poems from my previous four books and about half new material. Some of the older poems had held up really well. Some had not.”
Mulkey visited MSU previously in 2008 where he read from his collection Toward Any Darkness. “I always enjoy visiting MSU and talking with the students and community about poetry and creative writing,” he said.
- More about In the Garden of Stone: http://beth-kephart.blogspot.com/2013/03/in-garden-of-stone-susan-tekulv...
- One of Tekulve’s short stories: http://www.reduxlitjournal.com/2011/09/1-ostriches-by-susan-tekulve.html
- Mulkey’s book trailer for Ravenous: http://www.reduxlitjournal.com/2011/09/1-ostriches-by-susan-tekulve.html
- Betrayal and Midlothian, poems by Mulkey: http://www.servinghousejournal.com/MulkeyBetrayal.aspx
Disclosure: Telaina Eriksen is a fixed-term assistant professor in MSU’s Department of English.