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The past couple of weeks have been a cultural whirlwind in this rural Minnesota outpost we call Mankato. Lest you think it’s some kind of backwater, flyover-country hicksville, let me tell you what I’ve had the pleasure of doing:

Sept. 26:

Kino! Germany Now! film screenings and Q&A with director Asli Özge and cinematographer Emre Erkmen, MSU-Mankato. MNSU was one of five universities selected to host German film professionals through a film exchange. Mankato is not ground zero for foreign films, so it was wonderful (wunderbar!) to have the opportunity to show two German films (for free) to the MNSU and wider Mankato communities.

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Left to right: Emre Erkmen, Asli Özge, me, Dr. Nadja Krämer, and Dr. Matthew Connolly. 

Oct. 1:

Creative nonfiction workshop, Arts Center of Saint Peter. I’m teaching this six-week class to a group of eager memoirists/essayists. It’s a pleasure to spend a couple of hours each week talking about creative nonfiction. See this Mankato Free Press article for more information on how the Arts Center is expanding, which will include more literary offerings.

Oct. 1:

Jeremy Messersmith, Minnesota Storytellers, MSU-Mankato. The Storytellers series started last year with great success, hosting Martin Zellar and Dave Simonette. I was pretty excited to see Messersmith on this year’s schedule, as he’s a darling performer and all-around great guy.

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Jeremy Messersmith. Photo courtesy of Areca Roe.

Oct. 3:

“Newsies: The Musical,” MSU-Mankato. Students in the Department of Theatre and Dance always do a great job, and they met the challenge of this musical theater production. It was so nice to a sellout crowd, and I believe every show of the run was a sellout. A wonderful theater experience.

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Oct. 5:

Deep Valley Book Festival, Mankato. This was the third year in a row that we’ve hosted the book festival in October. I’m on the planning committee and by all accounts this year was a success. We had more than 40 authors and talented keynote presenters in illustrator Derek Anderson and author Jacqueline West.

So there you have it — films, writing, music, theater, and books, all in the span of a few days in Mankato.

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Authors getting set up prior to the start of the Deep Valley Book Festival on Oct. 5.

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