Ted Kooser, 13th Poet Laureate of the United States, visited the new Local Literary Wonders class after the students studied his poetry. The students also met authors Kent Hauraf and Mary Pipher. (Photo by Aron Crews.)
Reading between the lines is no problem for the Local Literary Wonders class.
Taught by Chris Blake, the new class offered at Union studied three Midwestern authors and provided students the opportunity to meet them—Kent Hauraf, Mary Pipher and Ted Kooser—in an intimate setting.
“My friendship with Mary Pipher and some friends’ [Pat and Elvin Benton] friendship with Kent Haruf sparked the idea,” said Blake, associate professor of English and communication. “I also knew Ted Kooser was in Lincoln. When I realized three literary genres would be covered [Pipher—non-fiction; Haruf—fiction; Kooser—poetry], it all came together.”
In the class, student read at least half a book each week. “It helps me get in the habit of reading.” explained Michael Steingas, Union's enrollment marketing coordinator who also took the class. “The authors each have a fresh quality to their writing.”
The class read Plainsong by Hauraf; Seeking Peace by Pipher, which chronicles her success and how it affected her personal life; and poetry by Kooser, 13th Poet Laureate of the United States.
“With the small class size, we have time to chat with them and discuss their work in a laid-back environment,” said Shelby Seibold, sophomore English major.
The class met Hauraf by phone and with Kooser and Pipher in person. In these meetings, the authors give students an opportunity to learn about their writing process and how it is to work through publication. “They’re giving us a glimpse at the life of an author and create greater depth to the books,” said Seibold. “That’s something that truly is a once in a lifetime experience.”