Poet and author to speak on the American landscape on Nov. 12

November 11, 2015

Poet, essayist, and short-story writer Merrill Gilfillan will be reading as a part of the Mary E. Rolling reading series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium on the University Park campus of Penn State.

Much of Gilfillan’s writing addresses the shifting layers of the American landscape, both human and nonhuman. Gilfillan’s work has been praised for its “deep feeling for, and understanding of the western grasslands, which give both dignity and a deep historical sense to our sometimes forgotten heartland.” The Kansas City Star remarks that “Gilfillan is a careful observer of the outward elements of the land — its shapes, its plant life, its birds. ... His pieces sparkle with invention and insight when he merges the landscape with interior voices of history and myth.” Jim Harrison stated, “If anyone writes better prose in America I am unaware of it.”

Gilfillan is the author of many books of poems, including "Truck" (1970), "To Creature" (1975), vOn Heart River" (1995), "Undanceable" (2005), "The Bark of the Dog" (2010) and  "Red Mavis" (2014); five essay collections, "Magpie Rising: Sketches From the Great Plains" (1988), "Burnt House to Paw Paw: Appalachian Notes" (1997), "Chokecherry Places: Essays from the High Plains" (1998), "Rivers & Birds" (2003), and "The Warbler Road" (2010); as well as two works of fiction, "Sworn Before Cranes" (1994) and "Grasshopper Falls" (2000). Gilfillan won the 1967 Major Hopwood Award for Poetry from the University of Michigan, the 1989 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction for Magpie Rising, and the 1999 Western States Book Award in Creative Nonfiction for Chokecherry Places.

Gilfillan attended the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. He lived in New York City for eight years, before moving west. After 30 years in Colorado and Montana, he now resides in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Mary E. Rolling reading series is sponsored by Penn State’s Department of English. Additional sponsorship for this event is provided by the Mary E. Rolling Endowment, the Joseph L. Grucci Poetry Endowment, the Paterno Fellows Program, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the University Libraries, and the College of the Liberal Arts. The reading is free and open to the public.

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Last Updated November 12, 2015